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Panel discussion - Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women Leading Change Moderator Huda Tabrez Living in UAE Editor, Gulf News, Dr. Nairouz Bader, CEO, Envision Partnership, Neha Thomas, Head of Marketing, Creative Zone and Lubna Naeem, Director, Gargash Hospital. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: In a riveting panel discussion on International Women’s Day, three remarkable women leaders shared their personal journeys of breaking barriers and leading change in their respective industries. From challenging societal norms to overcoming professional setbacks, they spoke about the importance of resilience, determination, and the power of self-advocacy.

Dr. Nairouz Bader, CEO of Envision Partnership, set the tone by emphasising the importance of collective effort in addressing gender equality. Reflecting on her own journey from pharmacist to head-hunter, she said that it was important to understand that the glass ceiling is not just a one-off instance.

“After you break the glass ceiling, you get the concrete ceiling and after that a different level of ceiling. But breaking the glass ceiling makes you more resilient. The more challenges we take up, the more complex challenges will come to our table. This is what makes life interesting,” she said

However, she and the other panelists highlighted the need for women to understand the importance of self-advocacy.

Neha Thomas, Head of Marketing, Creative Zone, emphasised the importance of self-belief and breaking internal barriers. She recounted how societal expectations almost discouraged her from pursuing marketing, a field typically seen as being male dominated. However, she chose to follow her passion and found success.

“If you don’t speak for yourself, nobody else is going to do that job for you. It’s very important, especially when you are in the top management, where I believe people look up to you in ways that you can’t really imagine,” she said.

Lubna Naeem, the director of operations at Gargash Hospital, also emphasised on the role of mentorship and personal resilience in overcoming challenges and achieving success.

“We as mentors should understand that we are not just in-charge of people, we should be taking care of them. That’s how we will create more leaders,” she said.